Spending Bill being used to Criminalize Boycotts of Israel and Other Countries

According to recent reports, congressional leaders are planning to sneak a bill criminalizing politically motivated boycotts of Israel into the upcoming spending bill.

Known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, it was previously shelved amid concern over its egregious infringement of free speech, after civil liberties groups argued the original version would have allowed criminal penalties for Americans who participate in a political boycott of Israel.

Some elements of the provision have been changed, but civil liberties groups are still strongly against it.

In a letter to Congress, the ACLU warned that even the amended version still constitutes unconstitutional restrictions. “We understand the Senate is considering attaching a revised version of S. 720 to the end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill, and we urge you to oppose its inclusion.”

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would allow penalties for companies who join boycotts of Israel called for by international institutions. The new version says that people won’t face jail time, but the ACLU said that it still leaves the possibility for criminal financial penalties.

The penalties would apply to boycotts targeting any country that is “friendly to the United States,” or any boycott not sanctioned by the United States.



Image adapted from: “img_2480” by Steve Rainwater is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0